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Ernesto Portillo: LULAC preparing leaders for the new millennium

Tucson Citizen - 3/18/99

Frequently one hears the question: Who speaks for the Hispanic communities? Truly, there is no single answer. Those who speak out are parents, folks in the neighborhoods, all types of organizations at all levels throughout the country.

At the national level, there are organizations such as the National Council of La Raza and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and there is the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Hispanic organization, which came into being in 1929 and is active throughout the country. In Arizona, LULAC has been present 49 years, and its objectives are identical to those being pursued at the national level: civil rights and education. That says it all.

In our community, LULAC has a very positive image. For instance, it is in the middle of its 10th annual Youth Leadership Conference, to be held March 16-18 at Pima Community College's West Campus. The title of this year's conference carries a special message: "Leaders for the New Millennium." So readers have a better idea of what these conferences have accomplished in only 10 years, it is noted that over 25,000 young students have been beneficiaries of the meaningful workshops, programs and outstanding presenters. This year's motivational performer is the highly recognized Tejana singer Patsy Torres.

And tomorrow's annual dinner, besides honoring and recognizing the work of six Tucsonans, will have a very special guest: Luis Caldera, U.S. secretary of the Army; and LULAC's national president, Enrique Dovalina. Caldera is living proof of great success at all levels of his professional, political and military careers. He is a product of West Point with military service from 1978 through 1983. He went on to Harvard University, where he received his law degree, and he continued in private and public service in Los Angeles. He was appointed secretary of the Army in July 1998. LULAC and the U.S. Army have a working partnership to develop and create educational opportunities for Hispanic young people.

So we have a singer, we have the secretary of the U.S. Army speaking to our community, and then there is Richard Fimbres. Fimbres is an untiring person constantly concerned about improving his community. Education is his mind-set. His primary goal is to improve youths' opportunities through education. All of these voices come from the various Hispanic communities, individuals and organizations working and speaking out on our problems and dreams for a better world. Ernesto Portillo is a Spanish-language radio broadcaster in Tucson. His column appears each Wednesday.